MANCHESTER -- On a picture perfect afternoon for golf – sunny and cool – Signal Mountain girls and Steven Scott of Chattanooga Christian put themselves in good positions for a run at titles after Day 1 of the TSSAA D-I A-AA state championship here Tuesday at WillowBrook Golf Course.
The three-time defending state champion Signal Mountain (164) girls are five shots back of leader Macon County (159) in the eight-team field.
Complete Results: tssaa.org
The Eagles are led by Haley Davidson who shot an 8-over 80 (40-40).
“We are within striking distance of the lead and you never know what can happen on the final 18 holes,” said Signal Mountain coach Rodney Mitchell.
Stevens and Jermey Fultz (Cascade) are co-leaders on the boys’ side with even par 72s. Thirteen golfers are within five shots of the leaders.
Possible Team Sweep: If Macon County holds its first day lead – boys (+11), girls (+5) – it will be the first time the same school has won both titles in the same year in the 22-year history of the D-I A-AA championship.
Low 18 – Sophia Schubert (Christian Academy of Knoxville) shot a 1-under71 (only round under par).
Low 9 – Jermey Fulyz (Carter) and Dowling Armstrong (David Lipscomb) both shot 34 on the front nine.
Team Standings: 1. Macon County (310) 2. Alcoa (321) 3. Happy Valley (323) 4. East Hamilton (341) 5. Cascade (342) 6. Signal Mountain (343) 7. Bolivar (346) 8. Milan (353).
Top Four Individuals:
72 - Scott Stevens (Chattanooga Christian) and Jermey Fultz (Cascade)
73 – Davis Shore (Christian Academy of Knoxville)
74 – Larken Whittemore (Macon County)
75 – three golfers tied
76 – six golfers tied
One Eighth Grader: Davis Shore (Christian Academy of Knoxville) shot a 73.
A State Tournament First: For the first time since a D-I A-AA state golf championship was held in 1991, there are no private schools competing for the boys’ title. The top two schools from 2011 (both private schools) – champion Notre Dame and runner-up David Lipscomb – lost in region play.
Team Leader: Macon County holds an 11-shot lead (22-over, 310) over second place Alcoa (321), with Happy Valley (323) 13 shots off the lead. East Hamilton is in fourth (341) and Signal Mountain is in sixth (343).
Signal Mountain’s top scorer is Sullivan Baker (80), while Ian Newman of East Hamilton is two strokes back at 82.
Last Public School State Champ: Hixson in 2004 was the last time a public school won the Boys’ A-AA state golf crown. Seniors Paul Apyan (first) and Josh Lawson (third) led the Wildcats to the state championship that year, competed in the state three straight years as the Black and Gold won two region team titles (2002, 2004) and the one state crown.
In the 21 previous tournaments, only four public schools have won the A-AA championship; Marshall (1997-98), Kingston (1999-2000), Livingston (2003) and Hixson (2004).
Individual Leader: Scott Stevens of CCS and Jermey Fultz (Carter) are tied for first day medalist honors with even par-72s, Davis Shore (Christian Academy of Knoxville) is in third (73), followed by Larken Whittemore (74, Macon County) in fourth and Sydney Chung (Madison), Cameron Dugger (Happy Valley) and Taylor Stuckey (Milan) all tied for fifth with 75s.
Defending champion Dowling Armstrong (David Lipscomb) and Alexander Riddle (Notre Dame) are two of six golfers tied for seventh at 76.
WillowBrook’s Amen Corner: Chattanooga Christian coach Don Holwerda believes that holes 12-16 will play a major factor in the team and individual championships. Similar to the Masters, the state tournament might very well begin on the back nine on Wednesday (final day).
“Scott (Stevens) had a solid round today (37-35--72) and was even par in that five-hole stretch (12-16) which was key,” said coach Holwerda. “He didn’t have an easy round, but fought back after the 1-over (played the back nine first) after nine holes and posted a 1-under, 35 coming in.”
Holwerda’s belief that Nos.12-16 can hurt a round was proven correct as defending champion Armstrong shot a 2-under 34 on the front nine, but posted a 6-over 42 on the back, including 7-over on 12-16.
Riddle (38-38--76) was a respectable 2-over on 12-16.
Team Standings 1. Macon County (159) 2. Signal Mountain (164) 3. Grace Academy (170) 3. Milan (170) 5. Grainger (174) 6. Boyd-Buchanan (190) 7. Lewis County (213) 8. Lexington (219)
Top Four Individuals
71 – Sophia Schubert (Christian Academy of Knoxville)
77 – Lauren Gammons (Macon County)
79 – KayCee Lindberg (Montgomery Central)
80 – Haley Davidson Signal Mountain)
Girls Individual: Signal Mountain’s Haley Davidson shot even par on 12-16 for an 8-over 80 (40-40). She was on course for a possible 37 on the back nine, but had a triple bogey, 7 on 18.
Day 1 Medalist: Individual leader and 2010 state champion Sophia Schubert (Jr. Christian Academy of Knoxville) had the best round – boys and girls – with a 1-under 71 (36-35) and even par on Nos. 12-16. She has committed to attend Auburn in two years.
Waiting Their Turn: While Signal Mountain has won three straight titles, Macon County has placed 5th (2009), 6th (2010) and 4th (2011) in the same time period and has been led, in part, by current teammates Lauren Gammon (Jr.), Kaitlin Cartwright (Jr.) and Kaleigh Chitwood (Sr.).
Signal’s Davidson, Marli Patten and Bethany Burns will seek to make up that five-stroke deficit while playing for a four-peat.
contact B.B. Branton at firstname.lastname@example.org